Indietail – Try To Survive!

I don’t usually play Horror games… and I don’t usually play all that many FPS games either… but some games combine these genres quite well or have something special about them. Some games out there are able to provide a lot of fun and a big challenge with little to no effort and a rather simple premise… and then there’s Try To Survive.

I’m honestly not too sure about how to approach this title. The game can be summed up quite easily: Shoot waves until you die.

Developer: INGO
Publisher: INGO
Release Date: August 3rd, 2020
Genre: Action, FPS, Horror, Rogue-like
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was provided by the devs.

You’re in a forest and have to fight off waves that get increasingly stronger. After every wave, you’re able to upgrade certain aspects of your character like the range or damage of your weapon, for instance. You may also end up with equipment, like a flashlight or mines and grenades.

Try to Survive doesn’t seem revolutionary.

It’s fast-paced and dark but more than anything else it was disappointing. After half an hour, I’ve seen everything already. After a while I got a hang of it and just ended up kiting enemies while strafing away before grabbing health kits and damage upgrades to just continue like that… and that got boring quite quickly, to the point that I ended up losing on purpose to finally quit the game. There are games that are frustrating and that make you ragequit… and then there’s this title that isn’t too challenging, not all that frustrating, and for a Horror-title not exactly scary either… Is there a word for when you quit because you got bored?

And while this review may sound like a rant so far, I’m actually trying to be at least somewhat nice here since the devs sent me a key for this game and asked me to review it. There are just a lot of issues with the game – and the devs…

First of all, you don’t have enough options and the ones available to you don’t really seem like they change a lot. On top of that, the game looks kind of unfinished, no matter the options you choose. The enemies that you fight each wave don’t really have a cohesive theme either… some are more eldritch while others are just flies or they look like Psychos from Borderlands. It just feels like an attempt to create something “new” out of a lot of different styles and games and whatever… but it’s not new at all.

Secondly, the promotion that the studio is going for seems super sketchy. The devs noted in their mail that they’ll distribute $15,000 to the top three players of the leaderboard once they have a playerbase of over 30,000 players. Every 10.000 players, they will pay $1,000 to three random players, and they are planning to have “tournaments” with bigger price pools in the future as well with budgets of potentially $25,000 and more money… And I don’t think that’s a good way of handling promotion.

I’m not a fan of this “practice” since it just seems super dodgy. They are luring in potential players by offering a prize to them. It’s not about their game anymore. And let’s say they’re really reaching those numbers, there is no guarantee that they’re actually giving money to anyone. It’s a studio with no games so far, with no actual social media pages or any websites or any other info about them. When I asked about a press kit, they were not able to provide me with anything.

Regarding my question why this game was special, unique or worth playing, the devs told me that they’ll give money to the players.
That’s not what makes a game good or unique or special… it just turns it into some sort of weird scheme. And it makes it sound even more as if the devs didn’t care about the game at all and as if they were just trying to rip off players by luring them in, taking their money and leaving them with nothing.

And I don’t think I’m reaching too much here when I say that it looks like a scam to make money with a bad game… that is being sold for 10 bucks.

Originally, I was going to compare this game to a very similar Indie Game that costs less than half of this game’s price… but I don’t think I should compare games in a review. I don’t want to recommend a game in a review about a different game. I’ll post a separate review on that title later this month, instead.

To sum everything up: I cannot recommend this game and I tried my best to be nice about it, but in the end this game is boring and doesn’t bring anything new to the table… and it doesn’t justify the 10€ price tag at all.

Hence, no recommendation here. Cheers.

Let’s talk about Hyper Scape

Hyper Scape is apparently “the new shit”. Though developed by Ubisoft, it seems to become rather popular as it introduces interesting mechanics to the BR-game genre. Here are my thoughts on it so far.

It’s a fast-take and less RNG-dependant take on the BR-genre and while I personally am not a fan of Ubisoft or battle royal games… I must say that they did a pretty good job with this title.

Drop down from the sky and plunder the city!

What’s different in Hyper Scape?

Well, first up, you’ve got a double jump and get to climb and jump around buildings which is very “Quake 3”-like. Some buildings and areas are blocked off by destructible barriers and provide you with loot – but there are no rarity levels per sé. Instead, you’re provided with a variety of weapons that you upgrade by fusing them with the same weapon, improving their damage, magazine size and other properties of them.

On top of battling enemies with shotguns, grenade launchers, your baton, snipers and other guns, you also have two abilities that you find in buildings, crates or on the ground. Essentially there is a vast variety of offensive, defensive and utility spells that allow you to outwit your opponents. By fusing them with abilities of the same type, you also enhance their cooldowns or other capabilities.

Did I hear something?

Overall, I really like this feature. In the few rounds I had so far, I didn’t really feel as if the game was dependant on luck. You’ll have to think about it in other ways: If you can’t find any upgrades for your wall-ability, you may as well try to make use of the other abilities you can find and try to upgrade those as much as possible. Even defensive abilities like the

Wall can be used offensively, as you block off escape routes for your enemies and shower them with your grenade launcher shells and mines, or you use it to boost yourself up and get some distance between yourself and the opponent.

Fashion > Damage – get some skins and stuff!

The way you use your abilities and weapons, the way you jump around the map and try to get your kit together faster than your enemies while destroying foes, is really cool and I did enjoy myself quite a bit. I also love that the rounds aren’t taking too long. You either go in Solo or with a Squad of three – and you essentially butt heads with other people until nobody’s left – or until “the crown” spawns which you have to pick up and hold for 45 seconds to win. By holding the crown, however, you also are revealed to your enemies.

Of course, the map also gets narrowed down bit by bit as the different Sectors of the Map are falling apart and turning into blue dust… i don’t know. It fits the game. Instead of just having a circle of death coming in closer, you get these different city parts that get destroyed, so you essentially know where enemies might come from and can position yourself accordingly to catch them off-guard and rain down on them.

And speaking of the Map: The city of Neo Arcadia is wonderful. It’s bright and colourful and really fits the more cartoon-y feel of the game while providing you with some nice verticality as you climb among the roofs, walk along the mono rail or hop into the theatre or other land marks. Being up on the roof gives you the advantage of being swift and mobile, though it also presents you to snipers rather easily. Meanwhile on the ground you have to be careful since the escape routes can be quite difficult.

And well, just like in Darwin Project, there is Twitch Integration. Streamers are able to invite their viewers to play the game and they are able to decide on which sectors to get destroyed or which event to start next, which can be quite interesting for viewers but I can see some issues with streamers telling their viewers to vote in their favour… although viewers don’t usually equal slaves, so I guess there won’t be any issues with it and usually events like the “infinite ammo event” or the “zero gravity event” usually tend to harm and benefit everyone equally.

My first ever kill – it must be the scottish accent that’s giving me the skill and swiftness needed for that. Also, I survived and got spot 15! Pog!

The only thing I don’t like about the game so far is the lacklustre gunplay. The first thing I liked about Destiny 2, for instance, is that the guns actually feel like they’ve got OOMPH behind them! They actually pack a punch and it feels great to shoot with them. Meanwhile, you’ve got the guns in Hyper Scape that quite often don’t really feel as destructive as they may be. The sniper feels alright but all the others don’t really convey the feeling that they’re actual guns. And don’t get me wrong: I’m completely against guns iRL… but when it comes to games… made for your personal enjoyment… shouldn’t the gunplay feel a bit better? The noises and all of that included?

And apart from that, while the games themselves can be really fast-paced and quickly done… the time it takes before getting into the next round is just way too long in my opinion. It takes a few seconds to minutes to find a new game and you have to click yourself through the battle pass progress and the missions and who killed you and where you placed and all of that before heading into a lobby… only to find a game… and then it starts… and I’d love it if you could see the battle pass stats later or opt-out of the notifications as they get a tad annoying eventually when you have to click yourself through all of them one after one – only to start the game. I mean, you can look up what you unlocked in the Hyper Scape Hub anyways. It’s not exactly needed after every game… but maybe that’s just like yelling at clouds? I don’t know… it’s not the worst thing in the world and it doesn’t bother me the most, y’know? It’s just a wee bit annoying.

Enter the Hyper Scape?

I am really enjoying this game. I guess it’s still in its open beta, so we’ll have to see how the game gets balanced and how it’s going to be received overall. I feel like there’re way too many Battle Royale titles out right now, so it’s all the more important that games like this one try to take a different approach regarding loot and combat. I might not be the best at the game yet since I’m not an FPS player but I feel like I’m doing a lot better already even after only having played a few games of it, so the learning curve might not be too steep. I just have to get better at reacting quickly!

Either way, that’s it for today’s post. I’ve been playing this now for a bit and have really been enjoying it… you can sneak in “just a quick round” in between study breaks, which is quite nice compared to other games… you don’t usually go for “just a quick round of League” or “just a quick hunt in MHW”, so this has been quite nice every now and then. It’s probably going to be one of those on-and-off games of mine, although that might change if more of my friends get into it.

Cheers!

Indietail – Cat Quest 2

So, today we’re taking a look at Cat Quest II. It’s a fast-paced open-world action RPG by The Gentle Bros. The other day, I covered the first game on this blog, so I’ll also cover improvements over the first game!

Developer: The Gentle Bros
Publisher: The Gentle Bros
Genres: RPG, Action, Adventure, Open World
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch, iOS, Android
Copy received from the Devs

So, what’s Cat Quest II about?

“Under threat from a continuing war between the Cats of Felingard and the advancing Lupus Empire, Cat Quest II will tell the tale of two rivals, brought together against their will, on a journey of discovery. Can they put aside their differences and bring peace to their world?”

taken from the official page

Yes, this time we’re playing as a cat and a dog who are working together to reclaim their thrones. Lioner the Purrsecutor is ruling the Felingard Kingdom with an iron paw, only caring about the war against Wolfen the Labrathor and the Lupus Empire. In Cat Quest II, we’re facing off against two antagonists while meeting some familiar faces and joining in with new allies for an epic catventure!

Cat Quest II sticks to its roots when it comes to the gameplay formula!

We still are using one button to attack, dealing physical damage and gaining mana, while using spells to inflict magic damage and status effects to our enemies. Using scorch marks, the game tells you when enemies are about to attack and what spells they are using, so you need to time your attacks well and roll out of danger when you’re about to get hit.

Instead of the shield-mechanic from the first game, armour now reduces our incoming damage which is also reflected in some of the spells. There are a total of twelve spells that range from the classic fire-, ice-, thunder- and other spells that we know from the first game to new spells that buff our physical damage, increase our damage or even create an AoE-aura around us, healing nearby allies!

Playing Rock-Paper-Scissors against Catnip Bravo!

As we’re playing two characters, we’re able to switch between characters in-game, when playing solo, or play as two separate characters when playing co-op. Yes, there’s co-op now! It’s awesome!
Each character has their own health- and mana-bar but the level is shared. When one player is down, the other one has to revive him by standing near him. Reviving takes some time and enemies don’t stop attacking, so there’s a lot more action than in the first game.

For my playthrough, I ended up having a mage-kitty and a bruiser-doggo, equipping the dog with a melee-weapon, attack spells and armour that provides more defensive stats and equipping my cat with a wand (ranged magic weapon) and support-spells like healing and buffing.

A new ally? Hotto Dog!

Over the course of time, I encountered a lot more armour sets that have unique effects like more mana regen or other bonus stats, which lead to me equipping my cat with a white mage’s cap (bonus healing!) and the bard’s weapon and armour (more mana-regen!) while giving my dog a powerful melee-weapon, the bard’s cap (mana regen) and the knight’s armour (more exp).

There still are no set-specific effects that are unlocked when you’ve got all three parts equipped but in contrast to the first game, there are a lot more amour-specific effects which help you customize your playstyle and strategize a lot more, which I found rather interesting. Some weapons and armour pieces are rather powerful in one regard but have some sort of malus on them, reducing other stats, while others are less powerful but don’t have such a negative effect. There are also new weapon-types that use different fighting styles!

Cat Quest II has even more dungeons, side quests and puns than the first game, leading to it being a lot more entertaining when it comes to exploration and adventuring. Although we’re in times of war, the humour is rather light-hearted and entertaining. As we’re fighting against both Lioner and Wolfen, we’re not only exploring the continent of Felingard but also the Lupus Empire!

The presentation of the game hasn’t changed much at all in comparison to the first game..

The Lupus Empire is a lot rougher when it comes to the landscape. There are deserts, mountains and dangerous shrubbery that inflicts damage on contact while the Felingard Kingdom features colourful grasslands and a lot more vibrant colours.

Overall the colour-palette and art-style haven’t changed at all. The soundtrack also features similar if not even the same pieces as in the first game, from what I can tell, which I don’t really mind all that much.

Let’s get to Cat Quest I’s flaws and the improvements in those regards:

While you had to do some sort of loot-box-game in the first game, you now are able to upgrade your armour-pieces and your weapons at two different blacksmiths, which I found great! It’s a lot better than in the first game and takes less grinding and luck – an overall improvement!
What I didn’t like was the fact you’re actually only able to upgrade your spells at only one place in Felingard. Luckily, they added a fast travel system now, which makes up for this flaw.

Another big update is the fact that your health-, mana- and experience-bar are all located at the top-left corner! It’s a lot cleaner and easier to monitor that way, which I’m a big fan of!

The quests aren’t as repetitive as in the first game and also feature a lot of references and humour, which I found quite great.

One of my favourite ones was a quest in which we were finding Pandora’s Box and opening it for the sake of adventure – rather entertaining! There was also a quest that was rather unique and featured catscrimination against mages and a mage wanting to travel back in time to destroy the source of magic so that nobody has to suffer anymore. The reward for that one was…. an invisibility coat (which I found rather entertaining, as it still leaves your head and weapon visible. Useless but entertaining!). Before it gets grindy, you also would have to level quite a lot. Completing side- and main-quests, doing dungeons and killing monsters grants you gold and experience – and most of the time you level up after one quest. Around level 82 (out of 99!) I had to grind a bit more, which is quite understandable as you’re getting into end-game-territory.

On a distance island I was even able to meet the Devs! Here’s Syaz, who I talked to via mail and who now wants to delete my save-file.

What about Cat Quest II’s flaws then?

Cat Quest II features many improvements over the first game. The combat and humour is entertaining, the story is a lot deeper than the first game and while you are able to complete the main story in circa six hours, you still have a lot to do when it comes to dungeons, secrets and all the exploration and side quests that you’re able to to do.
While the main quest series is rather short in my opinion, I’d say that the whole game is ruffly twice the size of it. Apart from the game-length, the local-only-multiplayer (which can be fixed with parsec!) and the fact that your partner’s AI isn’t the brightest (when playing Solo), there aren’t any other flaws.

Taking everything into consideration, I’d really recommend this game for everyone who loved the first game.

In my opinion, it really is an improvement over the first game but nontheless those that played the first game will have a bit more fun with this title as they’ll understand some of the references and recognize characters like the first Governor and Kit Kat a lot better, which adds to the fun of the game. If you look at the game itself without knowing the first game, you’re still able to enjoy yourself with it. It’s rather family-friendly and never too hard, so I’d imagine that my younger cousins might enjoy this title, too, if we played it together. There also are other jokes that adults might find entertaining but kids won’t get, which I really enjoyed.

Anyways,

Have a nice day 🙂

PS: If you liked or maybe even disliked this review, feel free to leave a comment! Feedback is always welcome! 🙂

Indietail – Minion Masters

Today we’re taking a look at Minion Masters, a card-based Strategy-game by BetaDwarf! It’s a free-to-play-game with some interesting mechanics and while I’m not sure if it counts as Indie, it certainly isn’t a triple-A-title!

In Minion Masters you play as a Minion Master against others, increasing your rank when defeating them and dropping in the leaderboard ranks. Each Minion Master has a unique way of attacking units and three different abilities that are unlocked whenever you level up. You increase your level by gaining enough experience points, to do that you have to control the bridges on the map that connect the enemy-territory to yours.

The third dragon was certainly an overkill but at least I get style points for it!

To do that, you need to play cards that cost mana. Mana is generated passively and is consumed upon playing a card. There’re three different types of cards: Spells, Minions, and Buildings.
Spell Cards range from AoE-damage to buffs for your minions to spells that summon minions. Buildings can do all kinds of stuff as well from summoning minions overtime to healing nearby units to damaging enemy buildings or generating experience points.

So, when you want to take control over the bridges you need to summon Minions that then walk onto the bridge. There’s also a variety of Minions (just like in every card game) with flying and ground, normal and siege, and ranged and melee units. To win a round of Minion Masters, you need to destroy the enemy Master Tower where the Minion Masters are standing on.

As for modes, there’s Solo-Battle, Team-Battle, Draft, Challenges, Expeditions, and Mayhem. As a beginner, you should go for the Challenges since you’re then playing against NPCs that reward you with cards upon winning. That way, you’re able to build a decent deck relatively early on. The Expeditions and Mayhem are only temporary modes, meaning that they rotate every few days and are only available for a few days.

Expeditions, on the one hand, are sort of like a story-mode where you go into an area and have to defeat enemies to gain glory. Once you have enough glory you can then challenge the bosses that all have unique spells and get harder the less glory you have. When defeating “normal enemies”, you’re presented with three “missions” that grant you bonus-glory if you achieve them before winning. These games are against actual players as well, so you’re always against people in your skill-bracket, except when facing off against the bosses. At the end of every expedition, you receive a certain reward, based on that expedition.

Mayhem, on the other hand, are modes with extra-rules, like a group of minions spawning on every side of the map every half minute or you summoning a minion whenever you use a spell. In this mode, you get a free entry once and after that have to pay 750 Gold to enter again. After losing three times, you’re out of the “run” and need to pay the fee again but are rewarded based on your performance. The best reward is awarded at 12 wins, giving you a card. Sometimes it’s not worth the effort, so you should always check the rewards beforehand.

Mordar is one of the available Minion Masters and features a revival-mechanic for minions!

Draft gives you a random deck and a random master when you attempt it. In the Draft Queue, you get to choose from one of three cards for your first card and so on. There’s quite a lot of RNG involved in this queue, so I usually don’t go for it at all.

Solo- and Team-Battle are the Queues that I usually go for. Here you build a deck, choose a Master and are facing off against enemies in your skill-bracket. Between matches you can also change up your deck a bit to improve it. Team-Battle is divided into premade and random since it’s harder to play with someone random than with someone you know. You also get to make up for each other’s faults when you’re playing premade, which I like quite a lot, strategy-wise.

Each season lasts for only one month. After that, you get a season-reward based on your rank for every queue. In the next season, you start at Wood again but are rewarded with points towards the next division based on your last rank. In the May-season for example, I ended up in Platinum 4 in solo Queue, I think, giving me quite a lot of points in the June season, so that I had to start from Silver 1 only if I remember correctly. That way I didn’t have to grind too many ranked games again before reaching the previous rank and possibly climbing higher.

Speaking of ranks, there’re different ranks in Minion Masters: Wood, Stone, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Grandmaster. Each rank has five divisions from 5 (lowest) to 1 (highest).

After winning this round, I got awarded 160 points towards Platinum 4. On top of that, I received 48 Gold and some profile experience. Leveling up your profile gives you cosmetics, more deck slots and occasionally Gold and Rubies.

Before I’m going into strategies and the deckbuilding, I wanted to talk about the game’s business model and the resources that you get in-game. There’s gold acquired from Missions, playing the game and free tokens. It is used to buy cosmetics in the shop as well as some cards and new power tokens. Every day you gain a free token, that awards you with either rubies or gold. On top of that, there’re season and power tokens. Season Tokens award you with a certain pool of cards depending on the battle-pass-theme. Power Tokens can be purchased for gold in the shop and grant you one random card. Via this mechanic, you’re able to get powerful cards even when you’re low on shards. Shards are awarded in different ways in the game and are used to craft cards. And then there’re the previously mentioned rubies. You’re able to buy skins and other kinds of cosmetics with rubies but have to invest real money into the game to get these. The game only funds itself with DLCs (like the All Masters DLC) and ruby-purchases but is other than that free to play. There’s a season pass in every season that rewards you with rewards in every tier if you buy the season pass of the game for rubies. The free season pass only grants you rewards on every few tiers, similar to other games BUT Minion Masters also grants you rubies now and then that you then can use to buy the season pass. The season pass itself kind of pays for itself if you achieve most ranks, meaning that you get new cards, gold, shards, avatars and skins on top of rubies, so I would say that players should keep their free rubies and then buy the season pass to gain even more rubies off of that.

The Bones & Bravery season pass
Apep, the Slither Master with random cards and toxic breath.

The different Minion Masters can be unlocked with both Shards and Rubies but to win the game you just need a good deck and skill, so while getting rubies makes it easier with the battle pass and the faster-acquired masters, it’s not pay-to-win, which I like quite a lot.

As for strategies, you have a huge amount of cards from all kinds of factions to chose from to build a deck that consists of ten cards. I used to play quite a lot of Apep, a Minion Master that gains a free minion card with his first and third skill, and used to run a deck with even more cards that summon minions of a higher cost or grant me more mana, so that I could save up mana and have an advantage of the enemy. The downside was that I didn’t have much control over my deck and could technically just lose due to bad RNG.

Morgrul’s Ragers

After that I used to play a deck focused around “Morgrul’s Ragers”, a card that gives all minions on the battlefield increased damage when a Void-minion has damaged the enemy’s Master Tower. So of course, I would run a deck with the Rammer for example who only attacks buildings (including the Master Tower) on top of Swarmers and other fast units that come in packs and can deal significant damage as well as ranged ground units that could deal with flying units.

And right now I’m playing the latest Master, Morellia, who’s got a Necronomicon that can either summon skeletons, give friendly units more health, harvest health from enemy units that heal the own Master Tower or decrease a 4+ mana spell’s cost, which in itself is quite strong, but her third quirk gives her “The Queen Dragon” as a card which summons Nyrvir, an undead dragon that has plenty of health and damage. On top of that Nyrvir also has a Quest going where you need to collect spectral essence from units to gain a bonus effect. So my deck is focused on Accursed units that all give you spectral essence. At 20 spectral essence, I gain extra effects as the quest is finished. Also since Morellia’s early game is not as strong as some other Masters’ I’m also running an experience-shrine that gives you bonus experience passively. Therefore I reach level 3 faster and can finish at that point most of the time.

Every day you receive a daily quest with a gold reward. You can have up to three quests. On top of that, there’s also special quests every now and then and the daily chests that contain two season pass tiers and can be received by winning three games every day.

To combat different enemy units, you need to play certain other units. There’s a unit called “The Cleaver” which costs 6 mana, for example, and does huge amounts of damage but has low attack-speed since its cleaver gets stuck in the ground after every swing. To combat that one I’m running the Skeleton Horde. For flying units, I have some ranged units, for hordes of enemies I have the Blastmancer and there are even more cards that can be used in certain cases. Every unit has a counter of some sorts!

Usually, you want to gain an advantage on the enemy by answering enemy minions with minions that need less mana. There are also other mechanics like pushing units with other units so that slower enemies get faster to the scene of action. Small features like that add quite a lot to the game since it makes the game Easy to learn, hard to master“.

Settsu is one of the Masters you can choose from and can enter the battle-field as a “minion” herself!

My favourite part of the game, however, is the fact that the rounds are fast-paced and only last 2 to 4 minutes on average. The longest rounds I played were 8 minutes long, which is still not that much. So when you’re running low on time, it’s a great thing that these games are really short and can be fit into every schedule – while other games need more time quite often.

But even if I’m praising this game so much, there are a few things that bother me. For instance, you’re gaining shards slowly, meaning that you can only craft up legendary cards that cost 2000 shards after quite a while. The other thing is that the announcer is sometimes really delayed with his commentary and that the music of the game isn’t that great. That is why I’m usually listening to music on Spotify while playing the game. Also when your teammate leaves the game, you automatically lose the game, no matter if you were winning or not. I would like a feature where the game is paused and you’re either able to “surrender”, hence losing the game, or “Fight on!” having both decks available and playing for two alone. Your teammate would then still lose since he left, but you could at least save yourself from possibly losing your rank.

The collection view, showing all of my owned cards.

All in all, Minion Masters is a good game. It has some flaws to it but those may be changed in the future since the devs are active on the game and publishing a new patch with balancing-changes and other features every few weeks. The game has quite a lot of replay-value especially since it’s a competitive game with short rounds. There are also 38 achievements on steam that you can go for. Since it’s free, you should check it out for yourself if my review wasn’t enough for you.

Anyways, cheers!

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.